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The Canadian government has continually warned people that the COVID-19 situation “could change rapidly” but on Wednesday night, the U.S. took drastic measures to combat the virus, impacting people across the globe.
“After consulting with our top government health officials, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” U.S. President Donald Trump said during an address from the Oval Office. “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday night at midnight.”
The American president went on to say that the European Union “failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” leading to a number of people in the U.S. being infected by people from Europe.
The EU as since condemned the U.S. president’s “unilateral” decision to restrict travel.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement on Thursday. “The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.”
Trump’s addressed came hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic with more than 115,000 cases worldwide and more than 4,200 death. U.S. cases total more than 1,200 across 41 states and 37 deaths.
In addition to the travel restriction from the U.S. government, the NBA announced it is suspending its season until further notice. This comes after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.
“The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, the affected player was not in the arena,” the statement reads. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Toronto Raptors are among the teams who were told to self-quarantine for the next 14 days and given precautionary tests for the coronavirus.
It was also revealed on Wednesday evening that celebrity couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, both 63, tested positive for COVID-19 while in Australia for the production of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie.
“We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too,” the statement from Hanks reads. “To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.”
How Canadians are reacting
Although Wednesday’s announcements were not directly related to Canada, the latest developments still caused many Canadians to express increased concern for their safety.
A Yahoo Canada reader poll live since January 25, 2020 - the day the first case of coronavirus was identified in Canada - reveals 54 per cent of voters are nervous about the outbreak and are taking precautions.
After the barrage of COVID-19 announcements ranging from Trump, Trudeau and the NBA, Canadians took to social media to express their feelings about the world’s trying times.
Some felt the paranoia of the outbreak creeping up on them, unsure of the real symptoms of the virus, or how to keep up with their timelines:
Others felt the unfolding events were defining moments the world will recall for years to come:
Trudeau’s $1 billion pledge to battle coronavirus outbreak
Earlier on Wednesday, the Canadian government announced a $1 billion response fund to combat the virus.
“Canada has been fortunate so far…but I know that people across the country are worried,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference.
This includes $200 million to support the ongoing federal response to COVID-19, in addition to $275 million for Canadian research, vaccine development and clinical trials.
There are more than 100 confirmed cases across the country and one death in B.C., a man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions.
Although Canada has not issued any travel suspensions at the moment, the government is urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Italy, Iran and China, and avoid all cruise ships.
The Public Health Agency of Canada still indicates that the risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population.